Thread Number: 72384  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
Places with old GFCI outlets
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Post# 956654   9/8/2017 at 16:45 by fan-of-fans (Florida)        

I read that GFCIs first appeared in the National Electric Code in the early 1970s (actually late 60s for pool lights). But, I have never seen houses around that period that have them. My house was built in 1976 and had no GFCI outlets anywhere. but a relatives house from 78 had GFCI breakers for the circuits that required them at the time.

I remember my parent's old house was built in 1992 and it had one GFCI in the kitchen protecting the outlets around the sink. And I'm sure the bathrooms and exterior outlets were protected but I'm not sure where the outlet was. It may have been in the master bathroom or a GFCI breaker in the panelbox. Most houses in the 90s had the GFCI circuits run from one outlet or breaker, and then the kitchen, needing its own circuit had another GFCI.

I have some old GFCI outlets in my collection and they look a little different than the modern ones. One has two circles like a duplex outlet, one circle has an outlet and the other has the test and reset buttons.

A lot of the older GFCIs also had the plugs turned sideways too.

Post# 956660 , Reply# 1   9/8/2017 at 17:50 by ea56 (Sonoma Co.,CA)        

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Our townhouse was built in 1980 and it has a GFCI circuit outlet in the upstairs bathroom. But curiously enough this GFCI circuit also controls the outlet on the side of the house in the backyard, the light over the kitchen sink, the dishwasher and the front porch light. So I know if any of these things aren't working all I need to do is reset the GFCI circuit in the upstairs bathroom. We have a pump for the fountain in the backyard plugged into the outlet in the backyard, and this will sometimes cause the circuit to trip.

Maybe once or twice a year I'll need to reset this circuit.

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Post# 956662 , Reply# 2   9/8/2017 at 18:04 by appnut (TX)        

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My house was built July 1984.  I have one plug in th4e garage that's the GIFI outlet.  If it's tripped, I have discovered (the hard way) that it effects the two outlets outside; the outlet on the harth of the fireplace and each of the outlets in the two bathrooms.  Those are the only ones I know that are directly tied into it.   I had to have the garage outlet replaced about 8-10 years ago. 

Post# 956673 , Reply# 3   9/8/2017 at 19:43 by Brisnat81 (Brisbane Australia)        

The house my partner grew up in was build in 1975 and it had a whole house GFCI switch that covered all outlets. The stove, hot water and lights bypassed it. Everything else ran through it

Post# 956710 , Reply# 4   9/9/2017 at 00:34 by GusHerb (Chicago/NWI)        

I've seen plenty of homes built in the early 80s with GFI outlets in the bathroom. I think some of them didn't have them by the kitchen sink though. The oldest house I can recall with GFI outlets installed originally was built in 1980.

Thinking about this reminds me of when I was a kid I was actually afraid of the outlet in my grandmas bathroom because it was right next to the sink and not GFI protected - it was original from the room addition in 1960. Much of the electrical practices found in that house frightened me, and that's why I was practically giddy with excitement to tear it all out after the 2008 flood.

This house from 1990 has GFI's in all the bathrooms, one for the whirlpool tub, outside outlets, in the basement, and in the kitchen on one side of the sink but not the other side of the sink. The outlet next to the sink that isn't protected also happens to be the one with the switch for the garbage disposal that I'm always reaching at with wet hands. *gasp*

Something else I thought worth mentioning is I have one of those outlet testers with the GFI test button and noticed a slower reaction time on those 1990 era GFI's compared to any modern ones. Not sure if they got slower with age or if new ones are just faster, but since then I've slowly been changing them out. (Given they've actually saved me from my own stupidity before, I thought it was a good idea)

Post# 956725 , Reply# 5   9/9/2017 at 04:44 by foraloysius (Groningen, the Netherlands)        

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My apartment got renovated in 1982. There is a GFCI for the whole apartment, only thing not on the GFCI is the hookup for the washer and dryer. My parents renovated their house in 1975, back then it was not yet mandatory, but that happened right after that.

Post# 956789 , Reply# 6   9/9/2017 at 15:32 by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

Here is a timeline (1968 - 2005) of NEC requirements for locations requiring GFCI protection.


Post# 956856 , Reply# 7   9/10/2017 at 00:23 by chetlaham (United States)        
Back then

The NEC was not so strictly enforced in all areas, ie even though never legal allowed many condos around here got away with 3 wire sub-panels, lights on the kitchen appliance counter top circuits, ect, ect. Another thing are local amendments to the code and when the NEC was adopted. Some places or states may not adopt the newest version of the code for over a decade. Thus a 1985 home may have been wired to the 1977 NEC. For example, Pennsylvania is listed on be following the 2008 NEC and will continue to do so for another 3 years from 2015:

Here is a list of when the NEC itself required GFCI and in what places:

FWIW- all of you guys that have 20 year old GFCI, test and re-test them. A few years back testing showed the a good chunk of older GFCI fail for various reasons.

Post# 956858 , Reply# 8   9/10/2017 at 01:08 by dartman (Portland Oregon)        

The house we had built in 77 had gfi outlets in the bathrooms only with the test/reset buttons.
The manufacturered home I have now was built/placed here in 96. The regular bathroom has a gfi outlet, the master bathroom doesn't, the kitchen has one by the sink. The outside outlet has one too. Because of what this place is and trying to save weight and cost to build the small bathroom one controls both bathrooms and the outside plug even though it also has one. Really screwed things up when the mini barn guys came out to build my shed. The outside outlet stopped working and resetting the gfi did nothing so we found another one inside that still worked and I figured the outlet got fried from all the heavy power tools they were using. Later after about a week I noticed my bathroom outlet was dead and then I saw a notch in the gfi plug and it was painted over. I scraped the paint off and saw the red light was on signifying the breaker was popped. Later sister mentioned her outlets in the big bathroom were dead too and that fixed all of them when I reset it and the light turned green. They shouldn't be allowed to mix that many circuits together but I guess it was common practice back then, especially with mobile/manufactured homes. I'd love to get at least the outside plug rewired to a separate circuit and breaker but not sure how easy it would be considering how these things are wired. It does have a outlet under the house I guess for drop lights and the incoming water line heat tape wrap that does keep it from freezing.
We run into problems all the time at work with gfi outlets kicking when we try to run more than one grinder. Most modern circuits are 15amp max and two grinders are close to 20. Just for folks info, if you see a plug with one small horizontal slot in the middle of one of the vertical slots for the plug that signifies it is a 20 amp circuit.

Post# 956859 , Reply# 9   9/10/2017 at 01:25 by chetlaham (United States)        

I wouldn't worry that much about. Its not so much water itself that got GFCIs into the code, but open or missing equipment grounding. Think of all the 2 prong metal frame appliances back then... A drill with a live frame is much more likely to be lethal on a concrete floor, basement or area where ones hands or feet are wet, ie lowered body resistance. Hence those areas started receiving GFCIs first in order of most risk working its way down. If we stared off with 3 wire receptacles and grounded (bonded) frames its a good chance GFCI would have been delayed by 30-40 years in requirement.

Post# 956868 , Reply# 10   9/10/2017 at 02:29 by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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My 1956 house only has 2 GFCI's....outside by the pool and they were installed by me when I built the pool.  One of them has faulted out and can't be reset but it's the one the pool pump plugged into and is currently not used at all since we are dismantling the pool.  I'm going to rewire those outlets probably during my vacation in a couple of weeks.  My parents' house built in 1968 doesn't have any.

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